Welcome to the December Fiction newsletter with another selection of the best new fiction received this month. We are featuring historical fiction in our ‘Other Genre’ category. We hope you will discover some fabulous new writers, or new work from old favourites.
This month’s best contemporary novels, from our monthly selection includes the highly recommended Sweetness #9 by Stephan Eirik Clark.
|Sweetness #9 : a novel / Stephan Eirik Clark.
“It’s 1973, and David Leveraux is a young and ambitious flavour chemist working at a world-renowned flavour-production house. While testing a new artificial sweetener, Sweetness #9, he notices some unsettling side effects in the laboratory rats and monkeys: anxiety, obesity, mutism, and a general dissatisfaction with life. Years later, Sweetness #9 is America’s most popular sweetener and David’s family is changing. His wife is gaining weight, his son has stopped using verbs, and his daughter is generally dissatisfied with her life. Is Sweetness #9 to blame, along with David’s failure to stop it? Or are these just symptoms of the human condition?” (Adapted from Book cover)
|Us / David Nicholls.
“Douglas Petersen is a biochemist. His wife, Connie, an artist and arts administrator, in bed at 4 a.m., tells him that after 24 years of marriage she is thinking of leaving him. The often maddeningly practical, reliable, and methodical Douglas is, understandably, shaken, as his devotion to Connie is beyond question. The family was to embark on a Grand Tour of Europe this summer; their 17-year-old son, Albie, is starting college in the fall. Connie feels they should all go anyway. Douglas, ever the scientist, hopes that through careful preparation (and lots of Wikipedia) the trip will bring structure to his son and help remind his wife of the wonderful life they share. Yet an altercation with a guest in their Amsterdam hotel sends Albie off on his own, with Douglas in hot pursuit.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|Leaving time : a novel / Jodi Picoult.
“On the night one of the caretakers at a New Hampshire elephant sanctuary was killed, Jenna’s mother, Alice, was found unconscious nearby. Hours later, Alice checked herself out of the hospital and disappeared, leaving her 3-year-old daughter behind. Now, 10 years later, the precocious 13-year-old wants answers to the mysteries of her mother’s whereabouts. Is she dead? Was she also the victim of an unknown assailant? Or was she an abused wife and heartless mother who did not care about her child’s welfare? Aided only by Virgil, the disgraced detective who bungled the initial investigation, and Serenity, a once-famous but now infamous TV psychic, Jenna seeks answers to the questions that have always plagued her.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Our graphic novel selection for this newsletter includes some darker, dystopian stories for your reading enjoyment.
|Retroworld / Patrick Galliano, writer ; Cedric Peyravernay, Bazal, artists ; adapted from the work of Julia Verlanger.
“Humans have scattered and occupied the known universe for so long that many worlds have forgotten their true, Earthly origins. The planets which retain the memory of the ‘Formers’ have allied together, creating a Galactic Federation, whereas the ‘Retros’ are worlds that have returned to a more archaic, primitive and isolationist way of life. The Federation entrusts its best agent, Marce, with a delicate, yet vital, mission to help a retroworld called Almagiel evolve. But political machinations, brutal living conditions and deadly creatures may prove to be the agent’s undoing.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|Snowpiercer. Volume 1, The escape / written by Jacques Lob ; art by Jean-Marc Rochette ; translated by Virginie Selavy ; lettering by Gabriela Houston.
“In a harsh, uncompromisingly cold future where Earth has succumbed to treacherously low temperatures, the last remaining members of humanity travel on a train while the outside world remains encased in ice. The surviving community is not without a social hierarchy; those that travel at the front of the train live in relative luxury whilst those unfortunate enough to be at the rear remain clustered like cattle in claustrophobic darkness. Yet, things are about to change aboard the train as passengers become disgruntled.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|The Bojeffries saga / words by Alan Moore ; pictures by Steve Parkhouse.
“Jobremus Bojeffries is like any other father, trying to keep the peace in a house stuffed with two kids (Ginda and Reth), uncles Raoul and Festus, a baby, and old Grandpa Podlasp. Never mind that one’s a werewolf, one’s a vampire, Grandpa is in the last stages of organic matter, and the baby puts off enough thermonuclear energy to power England and Wales, they’re no ordinary family. With stories spanning decades, Alan Moore shows an affectionate and penetrating grasp of human nature.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The best mysteries from our monthly selection are highlighted in this newsletter. Highly recommended is The Butcher by Jennifer Hillier for nail biting, edge of seat reading.
|The burning room : a novel / Michael Connelly.
“In the LAPD’s Open-Unsolved Unit, not many murder victims die a decade after the crime. So when a man succumbs to complications from being shot by a stray bullet ten years earlier, Bosch catches a case in which the body is still fresh, but any other clues are virtually nonexistent. Even a veteran cop would find this one tough going, but Bosch’s new partner, Detective Lucia Soto, has no homicide experience. A young star in the department, Soto has been assigned to Bosch so that he can pass on to her his hard-won expertise. Bosch and Soto are tasked with solving a murder that turns out to be highly charged and politically sensitive.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|The butcher / Jennifer Hillier.
“A rash of grisly serial murders plagued Seattle until the infamous “Beacon Hill Butcher” was finally hunted down and killed by police chief Edward Shank in 1985. Now, some thirty years later, Shank, retired and widowed, is giving up his large rambling Victorian house to his grandson Matt, whom he helped raise. Settling back into his childhood home, Matt, a young up-and-coming chef and restaurateur, stumbles upon a locked crate he’s never seen before. Curious, he picks the padlock and makes a discovery so gruesome it will forever haunt him. Faced with this deep dark family secret, Matt must decide whether to keep what he knows buried in the past, go to the police, or take matters into his own hands.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|Last kiss / Louise Phillips.
“A dark tale of deception and desire. In a quiet suburb, a woman desperately clings to her sanity as a shadowy presence moves objects around her home. In a hotel room across the city, an art dealer with a dubious sexual past is found butchered, his body arranged to mimic the Hangman card from the Tarot deck. But what connects them? When criminal psychologist Dr. Kate Pearson is brought in to help investigate the murder, she finds herself plunged into a web of sexual power and evil which spreads from Dublin to Paris, and then to Rome.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The best new Science Fiction and Fantasy novels from our monthly selection are presented here to tempt readers of this very popular genre.
|Resistance / Samit Basu.
“The sequel to the novel Turbulence. In 2020, eleven years after the passengers of flight BA142 from London to Delhi developed extraordinary abilities corresponding to their innermost desires, the world is overrun with supers. Some use their powers for good, others for evil, and some just want to pulverize iconic monuments and star in their own reality show. But now, from New York to Tokyo, someone is hunting down supers, killing heroes and villains both, and it’s up to the Unit to stop them.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|The abyss beyond dreams : Chronicle of the fallers / Peter F. Hamilton.
“The first book in the two book series titled, The Chronicle of the Fallers. When images of a lost civilization are ‘dreamed’ by a self-proclaimed prophet of the age, Nigel Sheldon, inventor of wormhole technology and creator of the Commonwealth society, is asked to investigate. Especially as the dreams seem to be coming from the Void, a mysterious area of living space monitored and controlled because of its hugely destructive capabilities.” (Adapted from book cover)
|Bête / Adam Roberts.
“A man is about to kill a cow. He discusses life and death and his right to kill with the compliant animal. He begins to suspect he may be about to commit murder, but kills anyway. It began when the animal rights movement injected domestic animals with artificial intelligences in bid to have the status of animals realigned by the international court of human rights. But what is an animal that can talk? Where does its intelligence end at its machine intelligence begin? And where might its soul reside? This is a world where nature can talk back, and can question humans and their beliefs.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Historical Fiction is featured this month in our ‘Other Genre’ category, with novels set in Medieval England to Jamaica in the 70’s, providing new and exciting reading experiences.
|Winter siege / Ariana Franklin and Samantha Norman.
“1141. A mercenary watches from the icy reeds as a little girl with red hair is attacked by his own men. He is powerless to stop them. But a strange twist of fate brings them together again. Sheltering in a church, he finds the girl freezing cold, close to death, clutching a sliver of parchment and now he is certain of what he must do. He will bring her back to life. He will train her to fight and he will protect her from the man who calls himself a monk, who lost a piece of parchment he will do anything to get back.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
|A brief history of seven killings / Marlon James.
“On 3 December 1976, just weeks before the general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert to ease political tensions, seven gunmen from West Kingston stormed his house with machine guns blazing. Marley survived and went on to perform at the free concert, but the next day he left the country, and didn’t return for two years. Not a lot was recorded about the fate of the seven gunmen, but much has been said, only to sink into rumour and misinformation. Inspired by this near-mythic event, this novel takes the form of an imagined oral biography, told by ghosts, witnesses, killers, members of parliament, drug dealers, conmen, beauty queens, FBI and CIA agents, reporters, journalists, and even Keith Richards’ drug dealer.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)
|The sacred river : a novel / Wendy Wallace.
“A young Victorian woman who is ailing, a proper but worried mother, and a spinster aunt sent to chaperone all leave London in 1882 aboard the Star of the East, in the hopes that the dry Egyptian air will help 23-year-old Harriet survive her worsening asthma. Harriet has spent her youth as an invalid, her only joy the study of Egyptian hieroglyphics, and, she is determined to see Egypt before she dies. Her mother prefers to stay in the comfort and safety of London but is desperate to keep Harriet alive. Her worries are compounded when the ship turns up a figure from her past, a man who threatens to expose long-buried secrets and bends his malevolent attention toward Harriet.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)